Primary Bulletin - Summer 2012
Teachers in five nursery schools in Lambeth in South London are facing redundancy as the local authority cuts hit early years’ education. All the outstanding nursery schools are at risk of a reduction in quality as teachers are made redundant. It has always been the input of qualified teachers in nursery schools which has historically led to the majority being judged outstanding by Ofsted. Qualified teacher input is also recognised as a key factor in quality by the EPPE research.
If early years teachers in nursery schools or Children’s Centres are facing redundancy in your area you should contact your local division and/or regional office.
The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) has now been published along with supporting documents. These can be downloaded at www.foundationyears.org.uk .
The Union guidance for members on the revised EYFS can be found at http://www.teachers.org.uk/node/15517 .
If your school or setting is involved in the EYFSP pilot taking place this term please let us know your views by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org .
Phonics Screening Check Survey
The NUT carried out a survey of members on the Year One Phonics Screening Check. The survey was launched at the 2012 Annual Conference to coincide with a motion being debated on the Check. The survey report can be found at http://www.teachers.org.uk/node/15556. Teachers who responded were overwhelmingly against the introduction of the Check and believed that it would tell them nothing about their pupils reading skills that they did not already know. 84 per cent of the respondents agreed that the NUT’s Reading for Pleasure campaign was more important than the Year One Phonics Screening Check.
NUT members at the 2012 Annual Conference resolved to continue to oppose the Year One Phonics Screening Check through raising the awareness of parents and MPs about the check, working in partnerships with other groups against the introduction of the Check and promoting the NUT’s Reading for Pleasure campaign.
NUT Campaign Against the Phonics Screening Check
The NUT is the only Union campaigning against the Phonics Screening Check. We are working with partners such as the United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA) to challenge the Government on its introduction. We are working hard to raise awareness of the problems of the test amongst parents, school governors and other teachers in the primary sector, in particular the use of pseudo words. As one delegate at the NUT Conference pointed out “we are now testing nonsense”.
Guidance for members on the Year One Phonics Screening Check is on the NUT website at http://www.teachers.org.uk/node/14950 .
Further information about the campaign will be posted on the Union website in the run-up to the Phonics Screening Check which is the week beginning 18th June.
Nursery School Inspection – Important Update
There has been some confusion about the re-inspection schedule for outstanding maintained nursery schools (Section 5 inspection). This was because the information published in the Framework document was different from that in the Risk Assessment Guidance. The Ofsted Information Line was also giving incorrect information to callers.
It has now been established that nursery schools being inspected under Section 5 which were graded ‘outstanding’ at their last inspection will be re-inspected after three years. This differs from schools and academies graded outstanding, which will not be re-inspected. Ofsted guidance claims that there is insufficient data (such as RAISEonline) to carry out a risk assessment in place of an inspection in maintained nursery schools in the same way as in schools and academies.
The Union has written to Ofsted asking for the error to be addressed and for updated guidance to be issued.
Members have major concerns about the new inspection framework. These include:
- Inspectors in the early years asking to hear children aged three read;
- Inspectors showing a poor understanding of pupils with SEN and their expected progress; and
- Inspectors using pupil absence in individual classes as a limiting judgement on teaching.
The General Secretary wrote to Sir Michael Wilshaw, HMCI, about these issues and in his reply he stated that he believed that inspectors were ‘subject to a rigorous selection process and received extensive training’. The response also confirmed that attendance is not seen as a limiting judgement by Ofsted and therefore if a number of children are absent from classes inspectors should not automatically alter lesson observation judgements.
NUT members at the 2012 Annual Conference resolved to reinvigorate their campaign for the abolition of Ofsted and for the introduction of a bottom up self evaluation of schools. Conference also resolved to campaign against the use of Ofsted as a political tool to privatise schools through forced academisation and to continue to support and protect staff working in schools placed in ‘categories’ from unreasonable additional workload.
The resolution opposed the proposal to reform the Ofsted framework for inspection still further for September 2012, including proposals to create a new category of schools requiring improvement to replace schools currently defined as satisfactory, and to increase the frequency by which such schools will be inspected. The proposals from Ofsted are outlined in the consultation at http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/good-education-for-all. All NUT members are encouraged to register their views through the consultation, which the Union nationally has responded to in full outlining its concerns.
Members are reminded that concerns about Ofsted inspectors should be raised with the lead inspector during the inspection or if this is unsuccessful by submitting a formal complaint to Ofsted through the school. Matters such as these should be referred to your local division and/or regional office.
Guidance for members on the new Common Inspection Framework can be found at www.teachers.org.uk/taxonomy/term/1489 .
The latest guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) on the Key Stage 2 SATs writing moderation for 2012 can be found here.
If your school is selected as one of the schools to be moderated and you have any concerns about the process you should contact your school representative or, if you do not have one, your division secretary.
The Expert Panel Report on the Review of the National Curriculum was published in February and can be found at here. The Union’s response to the Expert Panel Report produced in consultation with a member focus group is available at http://www.teachers.org.uk/node/15432 .